Posts Tagged ‘Spanish property’

 

March 15th, 2010

The bust is dead, the Spanish property market’s recovery has begun! That’s how some leading daily papers like El Pais are interpreting the latest figures from the National Institute of Statistics (INE) showing the market grew ever so slightly in January. Well, I wouldn’t try to claim a vigorous recovery is underway, but there’s no denying the market appears to have found a floor, which is an improvement on the 2 years plus of monthly declines we had before.

So what happened? Well, figures for January from the INE show that, excluding social housing, there were exactly 34,000 sales in January, up 1.4% over 12 months. A year-on-year increase of 1.4% is no big deal, but it’s a much needed respite when it is the first time in 3 years that the market has actually grown. And it’s difficult to dismiss it as a one off, because it is clear that the market has now found a floor around 30,000 transactions per month.

But, of course, we have to keep in mind that the market in January was 56% smaller than it was in January 2007, when it stood at 77,400 sales per month. So a year-on-year improvement is good news, but peak-to-trough the market is still just a shadow of its former self. Until that situation changes, there’s not much to cheer about.

If you dig into the figures you find that most of the improvement is now coming from resales, not new builds, as the chart shows. New build sales kept the market from total annihilation last year, but I’ve been warning for months that, sooner or later, they might fall off a cliff.

Story by Mark Stucklin

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March 9th, 2010

There was a small uptick in Spanish housing sales during the fourth quarter of last year, according to data released yesterday by the Ministry of Housing. Small, maybe, but enough for the Government to get excited about.

Beatriz Corredor, Minister for Housing

Beatriz Corredor, Minister for Housing

“The transactions in the fourth quarter represent a rise of 4.1% with respect to the same period last year, this being the first year-on-year rise since the fourth quarter of 2006,” goes the first sentence, in bold, of the Ministry’s press release.

In fact, if you just look at the ordinary housing market, the uptick was even better. Excluding social housing there were 116,664 house sales in Q4, a rise of 5.5%. Sales in the province of Malaga went up 3.6%. Regrettably, that’s where the good news ends.

Take the year as a whole, there 413,112 transactions last year, a fall of 19% compared to the previous year, and a whopping 46% down on 2007. Even the Q4 was down 33% compared to 2 years ago.

Some regions did better than others. Looking at a selection of regions popular with holiday home buyers, the inland province of Teruel suffered the most in 2009, down 36%, followed by Las Palmas in The Canaries, down 32%. At the other end of the scale, Spain’s two big cities did the best, down just 1.7% in Madrid and 3.9% in Barcelona.

Story by Mark Stucklin

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January 19th, 2010

It may have gone sour for some, but the coverage of the reality faced by second home owners like us omits some important truths. By a Citywire reader.

In the foreground there were sheep grazing on rough, undeveloped grasslands; in the background mountains.

When built, the bungalow would sit at the end of a row of white homes, with a triangle of land that would remain undeveloped at the end. There would be nothing across the road from us apart from a few buildings in the distance and then the mountains beyond that. We had our own part of the Spanish dream, having saved for decades to fulfil it.

Ten years later and everyone now knows how the developers got greedy, the cranes took over, promises were broken and property values plummeted; in some cases bizarre land laws meant that people lost their homes.

That story has been told over and over again. But this is not a piece complaining of the ruthlessness of the Spanish authorities, fraud on the Costas, nor the overzealous developers.

The value of our house has of course dropped and the weak pound has taken its toll. The developers’ broke their promises – high rises now obscure our view of the hills – and this is no sleepy Spanish idyll. But it is a place boasting the best climate in Europe. It remains five minutes from the beach, and provides a sanctuary we are fortunate to enjoy from the bitter grey British winter.

Thanks to Ryanair it is cheap and easy to get to. And while the British influence is increasingly widespread in this part of the world (the Costa Blanca since you ask), speak a little Spanish – and it doesn’t have to be fluent – and the locals will cheerfully speak it back. The pound is weak, but that wont last forever and the Menú del Dia is still a bargain.

The value of our home may have dropped but like most of the Brits with houses in the Med, but this is not our first home and it is not our retirement fund. This is not because we are loaded; far from it, we bought it to enjoy it, which we have many many times.

The newspapers may be full of reports that the dream of owning second homes in Spain is dead, but for the majority of people – at least those who are in it for the lifestyle not a money-making opportunity – it’s alive and well.

That is not to say that people in our situation haven’t been faced with property nightmares, but that over the years the coverage and hype surrounding this has been disproportionate: for the fortunate majority the Spanish property dream is not dead.

Story from Citywire

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November 28th, 2009

I recently read an interesting interview with Mikel Echavarren, head of Irea, a Spanish real estate consultancy, talking about the state of the real estate sector in Spain. As an experienced professional in touch with many different companies in the sector it is worth listening to what he has to say. Here is a selection of comments from his Q&A with Idealista News, the news section of the property portal Idealista.

Do you think there are any good investment opportunities in Spanish real estate today?
I think so but they are risky. In three years we’ll probably be kicking ourselves for not advising investors to invest now. There aren’t many opportunities in commercial real estate because there isn’t much product and rents haven’t yet adjusted. In residential, on the other hand, the correction has been very strong and fast. The ideal profile now is an opportunistic investor buying properties off banks by taking on the existing debt, a type of real estate venture capital.

So you think there are opportunities in a residential sector because the adjustment has already taken place?
There are hundreds of thousands of possible transactions, but not many genuine opportunities. What there is not is any financing, so anyone who wants to take advantage of this market has to take the debt with the asset, but there are still very few people prepared to do that today.

Has the price of housing and land touched bottom?
House prices touched bottom some time ago, they have already fallen all they had to fall. And the price of land has fallen faster than house prices although it could even fall a bit more. We have been saying at the top of our lungs that the price statistics published by the government are worthless, and damaging to the sector because they give international analysts the impression we are a country of idiots. In the US and the UK prices have fallen around 20% from the peak whilst here we have only fallen by 8%. We work with close to 28 property companies that have been restructured, and you see that valuations are down 30% in 2 years, and then banks buy those assets with discounts of 10-15% off valuations.

Do you think there is any residential property that will never sell?
What there is is a stock of land that will never be sold, at least not in 10 years. There are areas of Spain where the town plans look like they were designed for an invasion of extraterrestrials, parts of Almeria, Murcia and Alicante. There is an overdose of land that will lie in the warehouses of banks for many years. On the other hand, the stock of finished property will be absorbed sooner.

Is there any real demand for housing at the moment?
Yes, quite a few homes are being sold. We would have to place it at more than 200,000 homes a year. What is not selling is off-plan, as there you take the risk of the developer or builder going bankrupt. It’s a good time to buy newly built homes with Euribor at 1.24%. They won’t be any cheaper next year. And when prices start to rise they will do so at a rate of 10% per year.

How does one get the Spanish property sector to recover?
The residential sector is already recovering, just not the developers, who won’t see the light at the end of the tunnel for three years; it is very bleak for them. Clients of ours tell us they have sold a lot this summer, and some banks tell us that they have had more mortgage requests this summer than in all 2009. Furthermore, we believe that developers have dropped their prices to the minimum. There is mortgage financing available, not much, but there wasn’t any at all in 2008, and now there is. Mortgage costs are low, and it appears that the future is not going to get any worse. The recovery is underway, although this won’t show up in the official statistics until the first half of 2010. As soon as there is a general perception that things are getting better, house prices will stop falling and start rising.

Story from Idealista News

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November 26th, 2009

The market for new homes is on the road to a mild recovery, claims the G-14 group of Spain’s leading developers. Sales of newly built homes will continue “consolidating in the coming months” said Pedro Pérez, head of the G-14. Let’s hope this is not just wishful thinking by developers desperate for the market to start mopping up the glut of properties they created.

There is some basis for the developer’s optimism in the latest sales figures from the National Institute of Statistics. Sales of newly built properties increased by 7.6% from August to September, though on an annualised basis sales were down 20%.

“It’s been comforting to see sales rise for the 5th consecutive month, something that means we can say that the sector is recovering since it touched bottom in April,” Pérez told the Spanish press.

Sales are bouncing back thanks to lower prices and more selective mortgage lending by banks, argue the developers.

The recovery in sales will continue in the months ahead, says Pérez, in part because developers will make “every effort possible” to make prices more attractive.

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November 6th, 2009

The government of Andalucia, or Junta, announced yesterday a subsidy of 1 billion Euros to help liquidate the region’s property glut estimated at around 70,000 newly-built homes.

Like the ‘cash-for-clunkers’ programme used to subsidise car sales, public money will now be showered on house-hunters in Andalucia. But second home buyers can stay in their seats as the scheme only applies to local residents buying main homes. Even so, it could benefit foreigners living in Andalucia, and help lift the market out of its slump, which might lift prices for all types of property.

How it works
The way it works is developers participating in the scheme have to offer their property for sale at mortgage cost, wiping out their margins and giving a discount of 20%. Participating banks, for their part, will loan 100% interest only for the first 3 years. Starting in the fourth year the Junta will offer loans to subsidise mortgage payments for up to 5 years and a maximum of 15,000 Euros. As a result, buyers will save as much as 40% over 8 years, according to calculations by the Junta.

More conditions: The offer stands until the end of 2010, the properties must be newly- built, and the mortgage no greater than 245,000 Euros, the price limit for social housing. Mortgages must be 100% LTV, up to 30 years, charging an interest rate of Euribor +1%

Read the fine print, though, and the Junta isn’t being so generous. In year 9 mortgage lenders have to reimburse the subsidy to the Junta and add it onto the outstanding mortgage, so the borrower pays in the end. Nevertheless, thanks to inflation, buyers will probably have to pay back less, in real terms, than they borrow. Many people expect inflation to take off in the next few years.

Criticisms
You could argue that it is morally questionable for the government to be spending 1 billion Euros subsidising home buyers when there are so many other more needy causes. And isn’t this is just a wheeze to get buyers to pay inflated prices for homes today whilst transferring the burden of payment onto tax payers in the future? Wouldn’t it be cheaper, and cause less economic distortion, just to drop prices today to a level that people can afford without crucifying themselves on a 30 year mortgage subsidised by the government?

Story by: Mark Stucklin

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September 17th, 2009

Mortgage specialist Conti is convinced that for UK overseas property investors, traditional locations will emerge victorious from the global market downturn. According to the firm, investors are sticking to ‘proven’ locations as revealed in its latest ‘hot spots’ report.

France takes first place, accounting for 31% of enquiries received by the company so far this year, but Spain follows on with 22%. A surprising result in view of recent negative press. Enquiries have increased considerably with the countries accounting for 53% of all 2009 enquiries so far, compared with 29% in the same period last year.

Conti’s operations director Clare Nessling says: “British buyers are sticking to the more traditional overseas locations, especially those with history of providing good rental returns. The smart investor is no longer simply looking to where the best bargains for a swift return can be found, but to where security lies for a longer term investment.”

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September 17th, 2009

UK based Almanzora Group says that there are signs that in some sectors the market is improving, after it announced that it has sold properties worth almost €5 million in the Almeria region of south-east Spain in the past three months.

‘Over the years, the property market in Spain has proved to be extremely cyclical, much more so than it is in the UK. This recent market activity suggests that the wheel is turning again, at least for the better quality, more individual, properties in new and progressive upwardly mobile locations,’ said sales and marketing manager, Simon Coaker.

‘Prices have been at their lowest for six years but are bound to start rising again if sales of such properties continue at this level. No matter how great the oversupply of poor quality, mass built apartments, in secondary locations around the old tourism centres, the actual supply of good quality individual properties in relatively new, less developed, locations which are the future of residential tourism in Spain remain in short supply,’ he added.

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May 28th, 2009

According to the latest house price analysis from Knight Frank, the Spanish property market isn’t faring too badly compared to some other countries.

Just focusing on countries which have experienced a year-on-year decline in house values, Spain is far from the worse affected.

At the bottom of the chart are Dubai and Latvia, both with whopping 30+ percent annual decreases in house prices.

Faring worse than Spain are Norway, Ireland, Denmark, Poland, Hong Kong, Estonia, UK, United States, Singapore, Dubai and Latvia with annual decreases between 9% and 36%.

Spain’s modest loss of almost 7% is nothing to shout about – except that, looking at some of its neighbours – it could be a lot worse.

Even though the Knight Frank report sees little reason to be cheerful, countries such as Israel and the Czech Republic actually managed a 10% increase in house prices comparing Q1 2009 with Q1 2008.

The bad news for Brits wanting to buy property in Spain is that over the last 12 months, UK house prices have slumped 10% more in the UK than in Spain. To make matters worse, Sterling is now worth 16% less in Euros than it was at the start of 2008.

A year ago, selling a UK home for £200,000 to buy a property in Spain would have yielded approximately €270,000 of buying power in Spain. Today, that same home would sell for 16% less – £168,000 – and translate to just €190,000.

However, due to the fact that Spanish property also reduced by 6% in value over the same period, that €190,000 would have a purchasing power of €201,000 when compared to 2008. Even so, that represents a drop in real terms of €70,000 or approximately 26% in just 12 months.

Data from Knight Frank

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December 15th, 2008

A Spanish property expert has given an encouraging assessment of future prospects for the country’s property sector.

Martin Dell of Kyero.com claims that, while buyers are likely to remain “very price conscious” over the next 12 months, there will be an increase in the number of people investing in Spain next year.

He believes the Spanish property market will be helped by a “more buoyant European economy” in 2009, resulting in an “improved flow of credit and renewed optimism in the property market”.

Mr Dell explains that recent events in Spain’s financial sector, such as the Metrovacesa debt for equity deal, demonstrate that financial analysts in the country envisage a turning point for the economy.

“Next year, I see an opportunity for European buyers to acquire Spanish property at bargain prices,” he comments.

The Sanahuja family, which controls over 80% of the capital in Metrovacesa, has agreed to give creditors a 54.75% holding in the company in exchange for the cancellation of debt worth 2.1 billion euros.

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